PRINCETON — After eight years of serving breakfast and lunch in downtown Princeton, childhood friends and business partners Wanda Nelson and Pam Horwitz have made the decision to close Four and Twenty Cafe.
COVID-19 was a big factor in calling it quits. The restaurant closed March 16 and never reopened following the governor’s mandate to close. Horwitz said there’s no way they could have made it work only being able to serve at the 25% indoor seating capacity, they also had no sidewalk space to set up tables for outdoor dining and after crunching the numbers for carryout options, they found it just wasn’t adding up to be profitable for their business model.
Plus, Horwitz said the health and safety concerns weighed on both of them, especially when restaurants and bars are being targeted for the spread of the virus.
But COVID-19 isn’t all to blame. Nelson was ready to move on to a different pace of life. She is now taking care of a new grand baby. Horwitz has plans to run a food business out of a commercial kitchen at her home.
“As business women first, we had to take our heart out of it and really face reality. Are there losses? Of course there are,” Horwitz said.
“There’s sadness, but there’s also the excitement of moving on and trying something new.”
The way they see it, they are not walking away from failure, but rather a successful venture the two built together. Nelson said Four and Twenty was rated the No. 1 restaurant in the area on food rating websites like, Tripadvisor and Yelp.
“It was a success,” she said.
“You might as well get out while you’re up, rather than when you’re down,” added Horwitz.
The business women prided themselves on consistency, quality and commitment to food. Plus, there were rarely days when they didn’t open the door.
“We rarely missed a beat,” Horwitz said.
The take away for Horwitz following this venture is now knowing how important it is to be flexible.
“Even though every day there were reliable things, it was always a challenge to coordinate and make things happen,” she said.
Nelson’s take away is realizing that an operation like Four and Twenty Cafe takes more than just two people to run it well.
“We had to have our employees. It took quite a few people to make this place run smooth every day and we had to rely on them. … We’re forever grateful,” she said.
The cafe employed 10 individuals.
Both Horwitz and Nelson praised each of their employees for their dedication to good service, quality and consistency. They especially praised their longtime waitress, April, who many customers got to know well over the years.
“She never missed a day of work,” Horwitz said. “Everybody loved April.”
The restaurant items and decor at Four and Twenty Cafe will be auctioned off on Monday, Oct. 19, at 10 a.m. at the cafe. People are welcomed to stop by, take a look around and wish Horwitz and Nelson a final goodbye.
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